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Ukrainian Human Rights Activist, Journalist Protest Police Searches


KYIV/KHARKIV -- A Ukrainian human rights activist and a journalist say they have been subject to police searches of their apartments or offices designed to put pressure on them over their activities, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The incidents concern activist Dmytro Groisman of the central city of Vinnytsya and journalist Petro Matviyenko of Kharkiv, in the east.

Groisman, the coordinator of Vinnytsya Human Rights Group, said he was in Kyiv on a business trip when his flat in Vinnytsya was searched by police on October 15. He said police were investigating him for spreading pornography.

He told RFE/RL on October 18 that the case was connected with his Live Journal blog, which included a link to a video, widely distributed on the Internet earlier this year, showing clips of three Russian opposition activists having sex. In his blog entry, posted in May, Groisman commented that Russia's FSB security service was spying on the three.

Groisman said police also searched the office of Vinnytsya Human Rights Group and removed documents and financial reports.

He said police had a court order to search his apartment but not the office.

"It was robbery, without a court order," Groisman told RFE/RL.

"Instead of viewing the office of Vinnytsya Human Rights Group, they have started to take out all our equipment, all files. Their purpose was to get to our database of refugees and victims of torture."

Vinnytsya police have not commented on the case. Prosecutor-General's Office spokesman Yuriy Boychenko told RFE/RL his office will check whether it acted legally, adding that the answer is likely to be ready within 10 days.

Ukraine's Helsinki Human Rights Union has described the case as a "gross violation" of Ukrainian laws. The group's chairman, Yevheniy Zakharov, told RFE/RL the accusations of spreading pornography were only a pretext.

Groisman is a former RFE/RL correspondent in Vinnytsya.

In a separate development, Kharkiv police on October 15 searched the apartment of journalist Petro Matviyenko, the deputy of missing editor Vasyl Klymentyev.

Matviyenko, deputy editor of "Novyy Styl" newspaper, said police took away computers, including a lap top belonging to his child.

"All my documentation is there, including my sources, my articles and my drafts, my private correspondence, thus my privacy is being infringed [upon]."

Matviyenko told RFE/RL on that the police are punishing him for the fact that he is trying to publicize the case of Klymentyev, who went missing in Ukraine in August.

Previously Matviyenko criticized the investigation into Klymentyev's disappearance as a "farce."

Investigator Valery Lehenevsky, who chaired the police group that searched Matviyenko's flat, declined to comment to RFE/RL about the case.

Deputy Interior Minister Leonid Zyma promised RFE/RL on October 18 that he would explain the situation within a few days, when the police commission overseeing the Klymentyev investigation will arrive in Kharkiv from Kyiv. Earlier the police promised to check all versions of Klymentyev's disappearance.

Both Groisman and Matviyenko have asked for international assistance to protect their dignity.
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